MONTJANE LOSES THRILLING QUARTER-FINAL IN ST. LOUIS
South Africa’s highest ranked wheelchair tennis women’s ace Kgothatso Montjane fought like a lion but saw her hopes of reaching her second singles semi-final round at the US Open USTA Wheelchair Championships ended in an exhilarating 7-5 6-2 defeat by Yui Kamiji, the number 2 seed from Japan in St. Louis on Thursday.
The former world number 1 Kamiji was made to work hard before finally breaking the resistance of the 32-year-old left-hander from Limpopo who was serving and volleying beautifully throughout.
The opening set toggled back and forth, but Montjane looked to be extending her trend of dominance early on leading 3-2 but the Japanese broke her for 3-all. The two women traded breaks to 5-5 but Kamiji steadied herself, found her momentum, and overwhelmed the South African en route to a first set lead.
The Japanese world number 2 dominated the second set, consistently keeping Montjane off balance with the quality of her serving to eventually win the set and advance to the semi-final after a 2-hour battle.
The world number 6 Montjane may be ranked out of the top 5 in the world but she made the world number 2 Kamiji work for every point in some lengthy and at times spectacular rallies in the opening set.
"My serve worked well, I was swinging the ball so well and hopefully I can continue like this. I gave it my all and I always try hard to keep improving. I know if I want to have chances to win in these big tournaments, I need to serve really well and that's one thing I am focusing on,” said Montjane.
The last time Montjane defeated Kamiji was in the quarter-final of the Melbourne Open in 2016 where Montjane staged a master-class performance to edge out the Japanese 6-3 6-2 but Kamiji’s win today has extended her 18-4 lead in their head-to-head.
It is not over for Montjane as the world number 6 and her doubles partner Momoko Ohtani (JPN), seeded 4, defeated Angelica Bernal (COL) and Giulia Capocci (ITA) 6-0 6-4 to advance to the doubles semi-final round at the sixth and last Super Series event on the 2018 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour in St. Louis.
The South African-Japanese duo will now go up against top seeds Yui Kamiji (JPN) and Lucy Shuker (GBR) on Friday for a place in the final.